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Barber Dimes (1892-1916)

Draped Bust Dimes

Designer: Charles E. Barber. Weight: 2.50 grams. Composition: .900 silver, .100 copper. Approx diameter: 17.9 mm. Reeded edge. Mints: Philadelphia, Denver, New Orleans, San Francisco.

Charles Barber designed the Barber or Liberty Head dime, which was issued from 1892 to 1916. It shows a large laureate Liberty head facing right in profile wearing an oversized Phrygian cap with a headband inscribed LIBERTY. The laurel is tied with a ribbon in the back of the neck, and the date is below the truncation. The reverse shows a closed wreath of maple, corn, oak, and wheat that is tied at the bottom with a bow. The denomination is within the wreath written in two lines as ONE DIME.

After an unsuccessful design competition open to the public with stringent legal limitations, too short a time limit, and too small a prize, Mint Director Edward O. Leech ordered Charles Barber, the Mint Engraver, to design a new dime. For his obverse Barber used a mirror image of the Morgan dollar Liberty head with back hair cut off and the rest concealed within a large cap. He left the reverse design as it had been since 1860 with minor modifications. His initial B appears at the truncation.

Charles Barber served as Engraver from 1879 to 1917. He is best known for his designs of the “Barber” dime, quarter, and half dollar. In addition he designed the Liberty Head nickel, several commemoratives, and the Flowing Hair Stella pattern. Barber was born in London in 1840. He came to the United States in 1852 with his family. His father became an engraver at the Mint in Philadelphia. Following Longacre’s death, William Barber became the Chief Engraver and made his son, Charles, his assistant. In 1879, Charles Barber became the Chief Engraver despite the fact the George T. Morgan may have been more qualified or at least more talented.




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